Saturday, September 4, 2010

Marathi & Maharashtri Prakrit

Both articles from Student Britannica.

Marathi language
Indo-Aryan language spoken in western and central India. Its rangeextends from north of Bombay (now Mumbai) down the western coast pastGoa and eastwards across the Deccan. In 1966, it became the officiallanguage of the State of Maharashtra. The standard form of speech isthe dialect spoken in the city of Pune (formerly Poona).

Descended from the Maharashtri Prakrit, Marathi has a significantliterature. Both Devanagiri and the cursive form of Devanagiri calledModi scripts are used for writing the language. Eastern Hindi, anIndo-Aryan language, is closely related to Marathi.

Marathi grammar marks its cases with postpositions (likeprepositions, only following words).

Prakrit languages
Middle Indo-Aryan languages known from inscriptions, literary works,and grammarian's descriptions. Prakrits are opposed to Sanskrit, fromseveral points of view. First, a distinction is made between correctand incorrect speech forms (shabda and apashabda) The former areSanskrit forms which are described by grammarians, chiefly Panini.Such correct elements are part of speech said to be adorned orpurified (samskrita) by grammar. Starting at least with Katyayana(third to the fourth century BC), grammarians have considered the useof correct forms to lead to merit, thus distinguishing them fromcoexisting incorrect Middle Indo-Aryan usage. In addition, Patanjali(second century BC) and others consider such incorrect forms ascorruptions (apabhramsha; "falling away") of acceptable correctforms.

The term prakrita is derived from prakriti, "original matter,source". There are two major views concerning the way in which thetwo are associated. First, the original matter is considered to bethe speech of common people, unadorned by grammar. Thus the Prakritsrefer to vernacular usage contrasted with the elevated register ofSanskrit usage. Alternatively, Sanskrit is itself treated as theoriginal source in which Prakrits are considered to occur. ThePrakrits are thus vernaculars that arise from Sanskrit. This is theview most commonly held by Prakrit grammarians. The distinction isalso associated with cultural differences. Prakrit grammarians granthigher status to Sanskrit by assuring it to be the source language,and formulating rules of change to account for Prakrit forms asderived from the Sanskit form. This is in consonance with thetraditions in which the Vedas have the highest religio-philosophicalstatus.

On the other hand, grammarians of the Middle Indo-Aryan languageoperate with Pali bases as such and do not accord higher status toSanskrit. This is consonant with the Buddhist tradition, that doesnot accord the Vedas and Sanskrit such ultimate status. At anotherextreme, there is the view espoused by Jains, who, as noted by NamiSadhu (himself a Shvetambara Jain), consider Ardhamagadhi, thelanguage of the Jain canon, to be the source language.

Modernscholars usually treat Pali and the languages of the Ashokaninscriptions as distinct early Middle Indo-Aryan as opposed to otherPrakrits.


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